Armed conflicts between the security forces and the terrorist militia Al‑Shabaab have had a severe impact on Somalia for many years. In order to foster the stabilisation of the country, Germany is providing support to help former Al‑Shabaab fighters return to community and economic life. On 9 August, 30 former combatants were awarded certificates for completing their vocational training.
War leads to poverty – poverty leads to war
The protracted civil war has made Somalia one of the poorest countries in the world. The shattered economy makes it even more difficult to overcome the country’s fragility. It is thus all the more important to offer former fighters opportunities so that they can be reintegrated into civilian life. This is exactly what happens in the transition camps, where the former combatants are given food and board, religious guidance and vocational training.
Combatants become shop owners
The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the establishment and running of transition camps in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the local authorities. Since November 2014, the German Government has provided funding of just under 2.9 million euros for these camps. In total, 169 former fighters have already left the camps and been successfully reintegrated into society. After graduating, they receive a start‑up kit to help them set up their own shop, for example. A further 150 former fighters are currently taking part in the programme.
Hope and optimism for the future
The graduation ceremony for the class of 2016 was held in the Somalian city of Baidoa on 9 August, with 30 people graduating. Georg Schmidt, Federal Foreign Office Regional Director for Sub‑Saharan Africa and the Sahel, travelled from Berlin to Somalia specially for the ceremony. During his visit, he experienced an atmosphere of hope and optimism for the future among the graduates, in a country that has been a source of so much bad news in the past decades. He expressed his respect for the participants’ courageous decision “to say ‘no’ to killing and ‘yes’ to peace”.
The path to long‑term stabilisation in Somalia is long and arduous – but step by step, the country is headed in the right direction.